BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON
          BUSINESS, PROFESSIONS AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                              Senator Jerry Hill, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:            SB 1331         Hearing Date:    April 18,  
          2016
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          |Author:   |Pavley                                                |
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          |Version:  |April 11, 2016                                        |
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          |Urgency:  |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant|Bill Gage                                             |
          |:         |                                                      |
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           Subject:  State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind: membership:  
                       out-of-state schools: followup services


          SUMMARY:  
           Changes the composition of the State Board of Guide Dogs for  
          the Blind (Board); allows for out-of-state guide dog instructors  
          to come into California to provide follow-up services without  
          having to obtain a license from the Board but only when they  
          notify the Board that they will be providing the follow-up  
          services and submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the Board;  
          and requires the Board to provide a factsheet as specified on  
          its website and to schools who provide guide dog training and to  
          those receiving the training.

          Existing law:
          
          1) Establishes within the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) a  
             State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind (Board) which  
             consists of 7 members appointed by the Governor and requires  
             that 2 of the Board members be persons who are blind or  
             visually impaired who use guide dogs.  (Business and  
             Professions Code (BPC)  7200)

          2) Provides that the Board shall have exclusive authority in  
             this state to issue licenses for the instruction of persons  
             who are blind or visually impaired in the use of guide dogs  
             and for the training of guide dogs for use by persons who are  
             blind or visually impaired, and provides that the Board shall  







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             also have exclusive authority in this state to issue licenses  
             to operate schools for the training of guide dogs and the  
             instruction of persons who are blind or visually impaired in  
             the use of guide dogs.
          (BPC  7200.5)

          This bill:

          1) Requires that at least 3 members of the Board be either blind  
             or visually impaired instead of just 2 members and would  
             require that of these 3 Board members, that one  
             representative be from each of the two major consumer  
             organizations representing Californians who are blind or  
             visually impaired, and that the Governor in making these  
             appointments shall consider recommendations from these  
             organizations.  

          2) Provides that notwithstanding any other law, whenever an  
             individual has received training or instruction from a school  
             outside of this sate that is certified by the International  
             Guide Dog Federation or a successor entity, as determined by  
             the Board, personnel from that school may provide, in this  
             state, any follow-up service to that individual with respect  
             to the specific guide dog for whom the training or  
             instruction was originally provided outside of this state

          3) Requires the personnel providing the followup services,  
             within 5 days of arriving in this state, to notify the Board  
             of their intent to provide these services and would authorize  
             the Board to refuse to allow personnel who have committed  
             certain acts for which the Board could suspend or revoke a  
             license to provide those services, and would place those  
             personnel under the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Board  
             while they provide those services

          4) Requires the Board, until January 1, 2018, to prepare a  
             factsheet that shall provide a description of the purposes  
             served by the Board, a description of the Board's role in  
             assisting guide dog users who are victims of alleged guide  
             dog discrimination, and a description of the Board's  
             arbitration procedure as described in Section 7215.6 of the  
             BPC.  Provides that the Board shall post the factsheet on its  
             Internet Web site and provide copies to each licensed guide  
             dog school by the Board and that each school shall provide a  








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             copy of the factsheet to every student receiving training  
             from the school.

          FISCAL  
          EFFECT:  Unknown.  This bill has been keyed "fiscal" by  
          Legislative Counsel. 

          COMMENTS:
          
          1. Purpose.  This measure is sponsored by the  California Council  
             of the Blind  .  According to the Author, existing law  
             pertaining to the Board is not adequate to protect the needs  
             of persons who are blind and visually impaired.  This bill  
             seeks to improve services by focusing on three areas in need  
             of reform:

                      Board Composition  .  As stated by the Author,  
                 "Currently, the composition of the Board of Guide Dogs  
                 for the Blind does not adequately understand the needs  
                 and challenges of the blind and visually impaired.  Of  
                 the seven members on the Board, only two are required to  
                 be guide dog handlers.   Also, there is not adequate  
                 representation from the two consumer advocacy  
                 organizations whose central mission is to help the blind  
                 gain full independence and equality of opportunity in all  
                 walks of life.  This can create a situation where a  
                 majority of board members lack the knowledge to make the  
                 best decisions concerning the administration of the  
                 board's authority." 

                      Follow-up Services from Out-of-State Schools  .  The  
                 Author further explains that in recent years, the Board  
                 has interpreted its authority as requiring an out-of  
                 state school that has provided training to a California  
                 resident at the school, to obtain a license from the  
                 Board for any staff to come into California for the sole  
                 purpose of providing follow-up services to the student  
                 with respect to the dog for which the original training  
                 was received out-of state. This has taken guide dog  
                 owners by surprise throughout the state.   For decades,  
                 out-of-state schools have been allowed to provide  
                 follow-up care and there have been no adverse incidents  
                 on record in terms of this assistance.









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               Given that the Board is now requiring out- of- state  
                 schools to obtain licensure in California for this  
                 limited time period, there is a growing backlash from  
                 out-of- state schools, as stated by the Author.   One  
                 school in New Jersey has already been fined and sent a  
                 cease and desist letter.  They are no longer providing  
                 services in California leaving guide dog owners who  
                 received original training from this school with no  
                 follow-up assistance whatsoever.  While the Board has  
                 been unable to identify any instance of objectionable  
                 care rendered by a non-state school relating to follow-up  
                 care, they believe follow-up care is "instruction" and  
                 any instruction in this state must be licensed.  The  
                 California Council for the Blind states that follow-up  
                 service is not "basic instruction," which was provided  
                 originally at the school.  This is simply follow-up  
                 assistance to help the dog after he has graduated from  
                 the school and there should not burdensome licensing  
                 requirements to assist in these limited circumstances.   
                 No other state in the nation requires the licensure of  
                 guide dogs schools or instructors.

               This measure, as pointed out by the Author, is intended to  
                 allow follow-up assistance in very limited circumstances.  
                 "This issue is very important to the blind and visually  
                 impaired for many reasons.  Schools have very different  
                 philosophies in terms of training.  It is important to  
                 have a continuum of care with the original school because  
                 they know and understand the guide dog owner and guide  
                 dog which received comprehensive training at their school  
                 and can appropriately intervene in a timely fashion."

                      Guide Dog Board Fact Sheet  .  As further explained by  
                 the Author, guide dog handlers are often unaware of the  
                 authority of the Board, and even those who have some  
                 knowledge about the Board are unclear as to its powers  
                 and duties.   While there is some information available  
                 on the Board's website, it remains challenging for the  
                 blind and visually impaired to access the information.   
                 Many of the visually impaired have no computer access.   
                 Others that do have computer access do not have good web  
                 searching skills and the website is very difficult to  
                 navigate.  It would be beneficial, the Author believes,  








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                 to have all the required information in one document - a  
                 fact sheet - similar to what is offered by other boards  
                 and departments.  The fact sheet should be required to be  
                 handed out to all graduates at guide dog training schools  
                 so the visually impaired do not have to worry about  
                 computer access.  The guide dogs schools are supportive  
                 of making this information available.   A fact sheet will  
                 also be helpful to the Board because it will clarify what  
                 the Board can and cannot do, so that consumers do not  
                 have unrealistic expectations.  Many questions involving  
                 services for the blind, as indicated by the Author, have  
                 to be referred to the Americans With Disabilities  
                 Information Assistance Call Line because their questions  
                 are outside of the jurisdiction of the Board.  

          1. Background.  The Board was established in January 1, 1948 to  
             ensure that blind persons receive well-trained guide dogs, to  
             confirm that blind persons are thoroughly trained to be  
             effective and safe guide dog users, and to assure donors to  
             guide dog charities that their donations will be used for the  
             intended charitable purpose.  The Board's mission, as stated  
             in the Board's 2010-2014 Strategic Plan is as follows:

          "To ensure the quality of the guide dog industry by protecting,  
             promoting, and educating guide dog users, instructors,  
             schools, and the public in order to enhance the lives of  
             blind or visually impaired individuals."

          The Board licenses guide dog schools, guide dog instructors, and  
              fundraising programs to open new guide dog schools. The  
             Board inspects all schools, requires new active guide dog  
             instructors to take a legally defensible written and  
             practical examination, and requires instructors to submit  
             proof of eight hours of continuing education each year to  
             remain licensed.  California is the only state that has such  
             a regulatory program.

          In fiscal year 2011/12 the Board had a license base of 109  
             active guide dog instructors and 3 inactive guide dog  
             instructors.  The Board also oversees 3 guide dog schools  
             located throughout California.  The Board has seven members,  
             one of whom represents the Director of the Department of  
             Rehabilitation.  The other six are Governor's appointees, two  
             of whom must be blind persons who use guide dogs.








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          2. Arguments in Support.  The  California Council of the Blind   
             (CCB) is in support of this measure.  In regards to the  
             change in composition of the Board, CCB believes that adding  
             an additional dog care handler to the Board will help ensure  
             that the board contains sufficient number of members who have  
             the requisite knowledge about guide dog issues to make the  
             best possibly policy determinations in matters that come  
             before the Board.  Providing a factsheet and including it on  
             its Board website along with providing to guide dog schools  
             and to their students will ensure that guide dog handlers and  
             others interested in the use of guide dogs will continue to  
             have access to information about the Board.  

          Finally, the bill addresses a change in the Board's  
             interpretation of its own authority.  "After decades of not  
             applying the law in this manner, the Board has recently  
             decided that it is a violation of law for an out-of-state  
             school to send in a staff member to provide follow-up  
             instruction to a resident of California who received training  
             with the guide dog at the out-of-state school site, unless  
             the staff member receives a California license.  This bill  
             would provide that, with respect to an out-of-state school  
             certified by the International Guide Dog Federation, a staff  
             member of that school could come into California without a  
             license from the Board solely to provide follow-up  
             instruction for the guide dog handler who obtained his or her  
             dog at the out-of-state school.  CCB argues that it is not  
             the intent of this bill to undermine the state licensing  
             requirements, but merely to enable Californians who have  
             chosen an out-of-state school and who need follow-up  
             instruction, often in emergency situations such as the dog  
             having been attacked or been in an accident, to obtain that  
             service."  Providing the Board with notice by the  
             out-of-state staff person who will be providing the follow-up  
             service and submitting themselves to the Board's oversight  
             and jurisdiction will assure that the Board has the authority  
             to act if a consumer is adversely impacted by an out-of-state  
             school providing such services.  

          The  International Guide Dog Federation  (IGDF) is also in support  
             of this measure and believes that by requiring that the  
             out-of-state school, that is providing one of its staff  
             persons for follow-up services, be from a school that is  








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             accredited by the IGDF will assure they will be meeting the  
             stringent standards of accreditation by IGDF and will provide  
             for the safe, unrestricted, independent mobility of guide  
             dogs for all people who are blind or partially sighted for  
             one of their accredited member organizations.  (The IGDF  
             currently has 90 member organizations across 28 different  
             countries.  Some of these countries have just one IGDF  
             members, while others have up to 12.  Recent information  
             provided by IGDF shows that there are 20,519 guide dogs  
             working in 2014 that came from IGDF member organizations.  Of  
             this number 3,215 were new partnerships starting out for the  
             first time.)   

          
          SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION:
          
           Support:  

          California Council of the Blind (Sponsor)
          International Guide Dog Federation
          Guide Dogs for the Blind

           Opposition:  

          State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind



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